Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Brexit: and voting for change

The PM spoke recently to Robert Peston on ITV news: 

'Brexit was a vote for change - that's what we want to deliver': Theresa May reveals plans for post-Brexit Britain

29 March 2018

"The vote for Brexit had different elements to it - some people were voting because of their concerns about immigration, people wanted to take back control of our borders, our money, our laws," she said.

"But also, underpinning it, there was a vote for change. People did feel that the system wasn't working for them in perhaps the way that it should.
 Globalisation wasn't working - there were big companies that seemed to play by different rules. That's why, across what we're doing is not only delivering on Brexit, but also taking action here in the UK."

Improving education and investing in technical education will also be a priority, she said, while tackling corporate governance - to "ensure that companies play by the same rules as everybody else" - will be investigated.

Her former political adviser said pretty much the same over the weekend in the i newspaper: 

Leave voters didn’t vote to become poorer – they were protesting, and they should be heard

It is a myth that Leave voters voted to become poorer – they voted to make their mark on a broken political system (SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Thursday April 5th 2018

During the 1992 presidential race, James Carville, a strategist, hung a sign on the wall of Bill Clinton’s Little Rock campaign headquarters and chalked a reminder to campaign staff: “the economy, stupid”. In the quarter of a century since, the straightforward message has become one of the iron laws of political campaigning: the economy trumps all other voter concerns.

That law was broken when the British people voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. At the time, the economic case against leaving was strong: newspapers carried threats of recession from the Bank of England, of mass unemployment from the Treasury, and weaker investment from business leaders.

Yet people ignored the experts and voted for Brexit, and did so in largest numbers where the economic risks were supposedly greatest – in places like Tyneside, Plymouth and Boston.

According to the latest polls, the same places would overwhelmingly do so again in the event of a second referendum, undeterred by economic uncertainty and the possibility, officially set out in the government impact assessments, of being less well off than they might have been.

‘Change, not more of the same’

Why? Not because voters were misled, as some believe, or because they were foolish, as others infer. But because of another maxim that James Carville wrote on the same chalkboard in Little Rock, but which is often forgotten from electoral folklore, which read: “change, not more of the same”.

Britain’s regional voters did not want more of the same. Their narrow pecuniary interest was completely outweighed by the broad opportunity to upend the liberal political and economic consensus – a chance to hold accountable a system which had poorly served Britain’s regional economies and favoured its capital for decades.

A cursory glance at economic statistics reveals why. In terms of growth, London’s economic output is now nearly double that of the UK average, and is projected to grow quicker than any other region for the next decade.

In the last five years, the capital has attracted more foreign direct investment projects than all other regions, excluding the South East, combined – equivalent to nine times the number garnered by the South West.

A similar story is visible for household wealth. Between 2006 and 2014, average property wealth of households, minus mortgage debt, fell by 51 per cent in the North East but rose by 49 per cent in London, even as ownership rates moved in similar directions.

Today, ten times as many of the richest tenth of households live in London as they do in the North East. Similar imbalances can be found in the formulae that distribute public funding for schools, policing and local government.

Picking winners

Every indication is that these structural rifts will grow over the coming decade, as automation and globalisation hollow out low-skilled labour markets and concentrate wealth in global cities. To fix them, the Government must deliver from all sides – a proper industrial strategy, a radical new skills framework and serious housing market reform are just the start.

Alongside this, the Government should replace European economic funding post-Brexit with a new investment framework that is unapologetic about helping areas that have been left behind. With the right uplift in fibre broadband and incentives for translational research and venture capital, Leeds could be a global hub for medical technology.

The same is true of Leicester for the UK space industry, or Belfast for cyber security. People still baulk at the thought of picking winners, but governments have been doing it with London for decades.

Progress will also require taking referendum result at face value, and not ignoring the protest contained within. This is what the Prime Minister recognised when she spoke on the steps of Downing Street in the weeks that followed, and what the Conservative Party failed to articulate during last year’s general election.

It is what those who seek to overturn the referendum, or null its result through the forthcoming customs union vote in Parliament continue to ignore. Indeed, it is what politicians who want to reheat the failed ideological programmes of the socialist Left and the libertarian Right cannot comprehend.

The Brexit result has exposed the iron laws of politics as brittle and those that cling to them as foolish. Voters, especially those in regional towns with most at stake from the decision, did not vote to become poorer. They voted against more of the same. Given how their fortunes have fared over recent decades, why shouldn’t they?

Will Tanner was an adviser to Theresa May from 2014-17 and deputy head of the Policy Unit during her first year in 10 Downing Street


The Brexit vote was a protest vote - and politicians must grasp this reality


A vote for Brexit was a vote for change : brexit

See also:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and delivering economic development across the UK whilst protecting Devon and Cornwall
Futures Forum: Brexit: and disaster capitalism
Futures Forum: Brexit: ProgrExit and the Transition Town movement
Futures Forum: Brexit: and looking beyond revolt: "If we’ve learned one thing in the last week, it is that communities – not Westminster - must agree what works for them."

No comments: